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Sierra Leonean armed groups recommit to disarmament process: UN mission

Sierra Leonean armed groups recommit to disarmament process: UN mission

Leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Civil Defence Force (CDF) have recommitted themselves to the disarmament process in Sierra Leone, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country reported today.

According to the UN mission, which is known by its acronym UNAMSIL, the parties made the pledge during a meeting yesterday in the eastern town of Koidu in Kono District. UNAMSIL Force Commander Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Opande, who chaired the meeting, told the participants that the purpose of the encounter was to invigorate and enhance the disarmament process so that peace could be restored in the country.

For his part, a representative of RUF interim leader Gen. Issa Sesay appealed to both groups to be honest and sincere in their endorsement of peace and urged them to disarm.

"There were no victors in the 10 years of war," said Col. Augustine Gbao, the RUF Chief of Security. "We only succeeded in killing one another and destroying our country." He said it was time for all Sierra Leoneans to abandon their selfish ends and embrace peace so that they could reconstruct their ravaged country.

Chief Sansie Kwigba, the leader of CDF-Donsos in Kono District, said that he had met earlier in the day with CDF commanders and combatants at Njagbwema and had given them a message from the Government of Sierra Leone expressing appreciation for their contributions in defence of the country during the war. He said that although the combatants were willing to disarm, they feared being attacked as had happened in the past. Chief Kwigba said he had allayed their fears and asked them to relay the information to all combatants so they could come forward and disarm.

Speaking of behalf of both parties to the conflict, CDF representative A.M. Kongoba thanked the Force Commander for all the efforts UNAMSIL was making to restore peace to Sierra Leone so that internally displaced persons as well as refugees could return to their homes peacefully and reconstruct their lives and country.

Later, Lt. Gen. Opande visited the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration camp at Yengema and talked to the ex-combatants who had already disarmed.